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Charlie Crist would be only the fifth governor to be elected to Congress in past 50 years

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When Charlie Crist declares his candidacy for Florida’s 13th Congressional District Tuesday morning in St. Petersburg, he’ll be in the unusual position of having been a governor now running as a representative.

But how unusual is it?

According to a Smart Politics analysis, since 1900 more than two dozen former or sitting governors have won elections to the House of Representatives, although only four have done so in the past 50 years, with the last being South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford two years ago.

The other three are:

Maine Democratic Gov. Joseph Brennan (1979-1987). Brennan served two terms from Maine’s 2nd CD before narrowly losing back-to-back gubernatorial elections in an attempt to return to his old post.

Delaware Republican Gov. Mike Castle (1985-1992). Castle served nine terms from the state’s at-large district before losing the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in 2010.

South Dakota Republican Gov. Bill Janklow (1979-1987; 1995-2003). Janklow, the second longest-serving state governor in U.S. history, resigned after less than one term after a manslaughter conviction for killing a motorcyclist.

Unlike Crist if he wins in 2016, Brennan, Castle, and Janklow were all sitting, term-limited governors when they first won election to the U.S. House and represented states with delegations of just one or two members. If Crist is victorious next year, he will be one of 27 delegation members from Florida.

Crist is currently just one of six Florida major party nominees in history to lose both U.S. Senate (1998) and gubernatorial (2014) elections (not including his independent U.S. Senate bid in 2010 against Marco Rubio).

In the early to mid-20th Century, it was much more common for sitting or former governors to win elections to the U.S. House. Two did so in the 1900s, five in the 1910s, one in the 1920s, six in the 1930s, four in the 1940s, four in the 1950s, and two in the 1960s.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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